The Chinese auto industry is famous for its knockoffs. Hell, the whole Chinese manufacturing industry is famous for its knockoffs. These are the best clones from the recent 2013 Shanghai Auto Show.
Truth be told, Chinese carmakers are a lot better than they used to be about making knockoff designs. Back in 2006, it seemed like every week there was a new lawsuit from BMW or Fiat or whomever that their designs were being poached in the Wild Wild East.
Now China is filled with joint venture partnerships so that Western companies can allow Chinese companies to build their old designs by license.
Moreover, genuinely new car designs were popping up all through the show, though at times that didn't seem like a good thing. The purple convertible below from Tongji Auto kind of makes you with they'd just slapped a new grill on a Chrysler 200 or something and called it a day.
Another example of new-school Chinese thinking comes from the Shenbao D-series. Under the skin it's an old Saab 9-5, but it gets a whole new look. Not a bad car.
But when you get into the more off-brand car companies at this year's Shanghai Auto Show, you still find ripoffs as good as any.
The above van looks like a Toyota HiAce, a van we don't get in the States, but is popular everywhere else. It's so popular that Foton decided to make a near picture-perfect copy called the MP-X S. Here it is marketed by Foton's parent company BAW as a BAW 009.
Confusingly, this dark blue van is neither a Foton, nor a Toyota, though it is a HiAce. It's a Jinbei, a company that is part of a joint venture with Toyota producing genuine HiAces under license.
Joint ventures also add confusion to this Beijing Auto E-series. Mercedes and Beijing Auto have a joint venture called Beijing Benz. This E-series is a Mercedes, but not the one you think it is. It appears identical to the old 2005-2011 B-Class (if it's not familiar to you, it was never sold in America), but under the skin it's actual a Mercedes-designed Smart ForFour (another car we never got Stateside).
The body so closely resembles a Mercedes, though, that all you need to do is stick on a three-pointed star and you'll fool anyone into thinking you have more money than you do.
There is nothing fancy about the BYD S7. It looks exactly like a Lexus RX crossover, but it's just different enough to not count as a patent violation.
This Hawtai B35 looks like a cross between a Porsche Cayenne and a Hyundai. It turns out that the Hyundai connection makes sense, because Hawtai used to have a joint venture with Hyundai and this SUV is based off of the Santa Fe. The Porsche body is just a knockoff, though.
This Lifan 630 is either ripping off the front end of a Nissan Sentra or a new Lexus sedan. Let's just say that if you threw those two western cars into a blender, you'd end up with something like this.
Lifan is known for one of the most blatant knockoffs in the history of the Chinese auto industry. Their 320 has been around for years, blatantly copying the Mini Cooper. Now they decided to fix the whole situation by giving it a light facelift. We are not convinced.
The final act of copycat car design we'll cover is the Great Wall Kulla electric car. Since it's a concept car, Great Wall could have made the Kulla look like absolutely anything they wanted to. Instead they decided to make it look exactly like a Renault Twizy, from the single light strip across the rear, the separate wheels, and the pebble-shaped mini-doors.
Renault did indeed bring a Twizy to the Shanghai show, which must have been awkward.
So there has been improvement, but the Chinese car industry still has a long way to go.
Photo Credits: Newspress